A house is cordoned off in Stettler while Red Deer RCMP investigate a suspicious death. (Lisa Joy/Stettler Independent)

Shooter pleads guilty to manslaughter in Stettler

A Stettler man charged with second-degree murder has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

John Roland Douglas Savage, 52, has been sentenced to seven years in prison, less the time he has served since being taken into custody on April 7, 2018.

Police entered James Hulkovich’s home in Stettler on April 6 using a key given to them by the victim’s neighbour, according to an agreed-upon statement of facts, after becoming concerned for his well-being.

Inside, the residence appeared ransacked and police found the victim lying on the stairs in an awkward position. They determined he was dead.

An autopsy concluded the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the torso.

Savage was arrested a day later while driving the victim’s pickup truck on the QEII Highway south of Ponoka.

In a statement he gave to police April 11, Savage said he entered Hulkovich’s home through a window. He was going through the house looking for guns and found weapons under a bed.

Savage said the victim returned home and he “just pulled the trigger.”

Hukovich’s brother-in-law, Sam Church, was among seven people to make impact statements. He said Hukovich used to spend two to three hours daily caring for his bed-ridden wife at a Stettler nursing home.

“Jim can no longer be there for his wife, and this bothers me greatly, because she looked forward to it.

“I hope you realize the damage you have done and make better choices going forward when you are released.”


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Vehicles parked in the back alley behind the cordoned off homes in Stettler. (Stettler Independent file photo)

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